As local services ratings and recommendation companies like Angie’s List make headlines thanks to rumors of a prospective sale to potential buyers like Amazon, Google, or Home Depot; it’s clear that companies still need a good referral for how to get at local markets.
And WhoWeUse thinks it has the mobile answer to all of your local problems. The Maplewood, NJ-based company was created in the backyard bar of serial entrepreneurs and developers John Garbarino and Pete Clark and former Wall Street Journal reporter Spencer Ante.
The three men met when Ante moved to New Jersey and began chatting up Garbarino, who lived two houses down the road. Garbarino had a mobile application development company, and was working on a new product, which would become WhoWeUse. The app developed from an email list for local sports that had morphed into a recommendation engine for doctors, electricians, and other services in the town.
“It’s something that people were doing naturally and it wasn’t being done efficiently,” says Ante. While Garbarino adds, “It hit home for Spencer, because he just moved to the town and needed to know who to use.”
WhoWeUse differs from the anonymous reviews on Yelp or Angie’s List in more than just its mobile native platform. The company bills itself as word of mouth “on steroids”.
When someone downloads the app, it scans for local services that are in an address book and imports that contact information into the app. The app then organizes the services into ones that an individual uses and others that are used by other members of the contact list. The app then sorts each service into categories like car services, repairs, medical and health, and other categories.
On top of the organizational feature, WhoWeUse has also layered on customer relationship management functionality and an ability for businesses to see who are the influencers within certain social networks, says Garbarino. Eventually, the app will add payment features and functionality so that the entire process of booking and paying for most local services can be handled through the app.
“The low hanging fruit is lead generation,” says Ante. “It’s pay for performance… [small businesses] don’t have time to do marketing and don’t have a lot of online knowledge… So we become the social service for local.”
Photo via Flickr user JD Hancock